— Vows to review current laws intended to enhance trades
By David A. Yates and Alvin Worzi
Commerce and Industry Minister, Mawine G. Diggs, has pledged her commitment to ensuring that the Ministry remains at the center of the CDC-led government’s developmental roadmap, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), “as we continue to regulate the commerce of Liberia in keeping with global best practices.”
Minister Diggs made the assertion on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, when she officially took over as Liberia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), which was attended by several officials of government, friends, and family members.
“As we are almost midway into the six years’ mandate given to you (President Weah) by the people of this great nation, we at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will ensure that we review our performances over the past few years and ask ourselves some hard questions,” she said.
“To what extent have we contributed to the Pro-Poor Agenda? What are the challenges we have faced so far and how do we solve them? What milestones have we achieved and what new ones are we taking on? Have the lives of everyday Liberians been made better by the work that we do?” she asked rhetorically, saying “these questions are critical for the upward trajectory of our institution and the development of the 100-Day action plan which will lay out the roadmap to delivering on the President’s promise of ensuring Liberians are no longer spectators in their own economy.”
Improvement, Madam Diggs said, will be made where needed and corrections where things have gone wrong.
According to her, as Minister of Commerce, she will work with the National Legislature to review current laws on the books that were enacted to enhance trade, improve commerce and empower Liberians in general.
She said the outreach and agreement are to ensure that the laws which guide “our work are in accord with current realities and the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda. Your input is of necessity and valuable. “We have some of the best laws but in some regards, little or no real impacts of those laws are felt. Therefore, something must be done differently in order to implement them.”
Minister Diggs, who is also the former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Administration, told her staff that moving forward, she will intend to take actions to ease the doing of business in the country, improve trade facilitation, increase access to financing and more formalization and consolidation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
She said the work of the Ministry cannot be done in isolation, noting that, the success of one ministry and agency depends on the success of others. Because the well-being and lives of the Liberian people are tied to the decisions we (government officials) make and actions we take.
“I look forward to engaging and building very strong cooperation so that the Ministry can deliver on its statutory functions. Trust and believe that we will not hesitate to call on you (colleagues) when the need arises,” Minister Diggs stressed.
She also told the staff of the Ministry that the task at hand is enormous and will take the dedicated efforts of each of you to get the job done.
Minister Diggs said, “I have no doubt that we are in this together. You remain a valuable part of our plans and program. We will build capacity where there are gaps, and we will continuously seek your welfare. But the expectation is that you come to work every day committed to give 100%, that you carry your own weight and take responsibility for failures as much as you do successes, that you do better than you did the day before, that you work as a team to ensure the continuous delivery of the Ministry’s agenda and that you remain patriotic.”
The new Commerce Minister, however, reminded the staff that there will be zero tolerance for behaviors that run contrary to established regulations and standing orders of the Ministry.
Former Liberia’s Commerce Minister and now Executive Director Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wilson K. Tarpeh, lauded President George M. Weah for the opportunity given him to serve as Liberia’s Minister of Commerce.
Mr. Tarpeh, who took over the Ministry in February 2018, said they met a “good institution” and now leaving it a “better institution.”
According to Mr. Tarpeh, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry remains one of the agencies of government that has written instructions and procedures, which means everything that is done or supposed to be done is documented, including policy, timing and procedures.
Mr. Tarpeh said Liberia’s trading platform is now being automated as the procurement process is almost complete, which is “Destination Inspection.”
“The MOCI is poised now to shift into destination inspection in the coming month or two in order to speed up the trade flow,” Mr. Tarpeh indicated.